Local baseball fixture Al Lynch dead at 86

Posted: March 21, 2007

Al Lynch, a former major-league baseball scout who was a longtime fixture at South Jersey high school games, died Monday after a long illness. He was 86.

Mr. Lynch, whose soft-spoken, kind-hearted manner made him an endearing figure, scouted South Jersey after moving to Mount Laurel with his family in 1966. He spent 50 years in baseball, including 40 as a scout.

"Baseball was his life," his daughter, Betsi Lynch, said yesterday. "He was just so into baseball. When we were growing up, we wouldn't go anywhere if a game was on; we had to wait until the game was over."

During his 50 years in baseball, Mr. Lynch scouted for the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox. He worked for the Mets from 1977 to 1998.

In addition, Mr. Lynch once worked as a business manager in the Chicago White Sox farm system.

His daughter said Mr. Lynch was proud that he helped to integrate black players into the White Sox farm team in Lynchburg, Va., in the 1960s. "He was involved in getting black players to eat in the same places and go to the same hotels" as white players, she said.

When he scouted for the Mets, Mr. Lynch was instrumental in the club's drafting of pitcher Dwight Gooden, who became a star.

Mr. Lynch stepped down from scouting in 1999 but missed baseball. After a one-year hiatus, he returned and scouted for the Red Sox for four years before retiring in 2004.

"The Red Sox arranged his schedule so he only did afternoon games because he was having problems seeing when he drove at night," his daughter said.

Even after he retired, Mr. Lynch was still a fixture at area games.

"I go because I love the game, and love high school baseball," he said in 2004.

"He was a very unassuming person who was so supportive of the South Jersey Baseball Coaches' Association," said Joe Hartmann, the former Eastern High head coach who is now an assistant at Overbrook and a part-time scout for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. "He always interacted with the kids, the coaches and the umpires. Everybody loved him.

"He brought class to the fraternity of scouting."

Walt Serad, the former longtime coach at Delsea, agreed.

"You couldn't meet a nicer guy," said Serad, an executive officer of the South Jersey Baseball Coaches Association. "He was always happy, always at all the South Jersey baseball dinners and the games. He would come up to me before a game and tell me he wasn't scouting anyone [in particular], but he'd tell me to just tell them he was scouting talent. It would get the kids all excited."

Mr. Lynch was especially proud of the 1986 World Series championship ring he received from the Mets. "That's the only thing in his will that he specified that goes to somebody," Betsi Lynch said. "It's going to his grandson."

Mr. Lynch, who once estimated he had scouted as many as 300 games a season, battled cancer for three or four years, his daughter said.

Mr. Lynch is survived by his wife of 58 years, Eleanor; three daughters; and a grandson.

A World War II Navy veteran and a 40-year employee of General Electric - he was a purchasing agent - Mr. Lynch is a member of the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

Funeral services will be held at the McChesney Funeral Home in Moorestown tomorrow from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., followed by a Mass at Our Lady of Good Counsel next door.

Burial will be at the Brigadier General William Doyle Cemetery in Jacobstown, Burlington County, at 1 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be sent to the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame, 172 William Feather Dr., Voorhees, N.J. 08043. Checks should be made payable to the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.


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